Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Behind the Curtain - July 2013

The rainy season has ended in the lower half of Japan, the summer school holidays are just around the corner, so it is time to head for the miso capital of the world, and enjoy the Nagoya Basho. This tourney we get to enjoy the introduction of 4 first time sekitori to the dohyo, along with a single returnee.
Let’s start with the first African born sekitori in the history of sumo, Otake beya’s Osunaarashi or "Great Sandstorm," the makushita yusho winner with the perfect record of 7-0, fighting from Mk7e.

"To be the only one makes me happy," said the 21-year-old Otake stable wrestler, whose real name is Abdelrahman Ahmed Shaalan.

As reported in the Kyodo News on May 29th, “Shaalan was introduced to the sport by a friend and was absorbed by watching video clips of former yokozuna Takanohana. Shaalan first tried his hand at sumo at the age of 15. He won a bronze medal at the 2008 world junior sumo championships.”

The Otake stablemaster decided to take in Osunaarashi after being impressed that the Egyptian was willing to come to Japan not long after the disastrous earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear crisis, the Asahi Shimbun said.

Osunaarashi is described as having a powerful frame, at 6-foot-2 and 319 pounds, but is lacking the flexibility required to do the ceremonial leg raising and stomping on the ring.

He is a Muslim and will have to juggle fasting and training during Ramadan, the Asahi Shimbun noted.

“I am confident that I can overcome my challenges," he told the Asahi Shimbun reporter. "I want to become a wrestler who represents Arab and African nations.”

Otake beya must be happy to have a sekitori for the first time since Roho retired back in September 2008.

Next in our new face line-up, hailing from Shikoroyama beya, Seiro, notching a 5-2 result, from the highest rank in makushita, Mk1e, who is interesting he is now a sekitori, who was born during the Heisei era (January 8, 1989 – present). He joins his fellow stablemate, Homasho, as ex-Sekiwake Terao’s 2nd sekitori.

Moving on to a man that has been at it for many years, from Sadogatake beya, Kotomisen, posting a 5-2, fighting at Mk2w. Koto first stepped on the dohyo way back in 1999; 4 basho in Jonokuchi, 23 basho in Jonidan, 31 basho in Sandanme, 26 basho in Makushita, simply incredible! 7 other rikishi have been promoted to Juryo 6 times. One has been promoted 7 times, Kitazakura. One has been promoted a record 8 times, Sumanofuji!

Our final newcomer to wearing the silk mawashi, from Oitekaze beya, Endo, finishing 5-2, fighting from Mk3e, having started at Mk10, due to his accomplished in college sumo, Endo first enter the ring in March 2013. He had his very first appearance against a sekitori on May 22, resulting a very lively discussion with the nearby yobidashi, since he had no clue exactly how to perform the chikaramizu.

He is also the first sekitori for Oitekaze since Daishoumi retired from sumo back in November 2011.

It is also worth noting that he is currently fighting under his family name. We could see a new shikona on the banzuke for July. At 143 kg and 184 cm, and back-to-back 5-2 results, expect to see a lot more of this rikishi.

We conclude with our only returnee for the Nagoya tournament, from Tamanoi beya, Yoshiazuma, getting 4-3, while ranked at Mk1w, he is a textbook example of an elevator sekitori, since this is the 6th time he will be stepping out from behind the curtain; 1st time- 2007.11; 2nd time - 2011.01; 3rd time - 2011.11; 4th time - 2012.03; 5th time - 2013.01 and Nagoya makes six!

Surprisingly, this is not a record; there have been 7 other rikishi that have accomplished this feat! On top of that, one rikishi has done this 7 times, Kitazakura. But that still is not the maximum times a rikishi has stepped out from behind the curtain, over their entire career. The record holder goes to Sumanofuji, who has traded in his cotton mawashi for a silk one, 9 times!